It's 7am and I am at my desk drinking my regular morning coffee. Today I'm running 8 to 10 miles at marathon race pace and though I'm reluctant to admit it, the truth is is that I am dreading the effort. My goal pace is 4:22 - 4:25 per kilometer. On paper that's not too hard, as the distance is well short of a half marathon and the pace is a good 7 seconds slower than what I run the 21.1km distance in.
But today is not a race setting, and a good reminder how much better we tend to perform in a competitive environment. It's not only today's effort that scares me but also the possibility that I will not be able to hold the pace, the speed that I am aiming to hold for 42.2km on September 25. I worry that I may not be able to stick with the marathon goal pace for only a third of that distance. I should be able to, based on recent times in training and racing.
Training for a marathon, at any level, is as much about mental strength as it is about physical effort. I need to be strong and aim to do this key session as well as I possibly can today. My body should be rested, after yesterday's day off running. Tim has agreed to run the session with me; it's always helpful if you can do a tough workout with someone else who runs at a similar pace. Don't, of course, if your fitness levels are completely different.
I know this session will be just as hard for Tim, and having him face up to the challenge right there with me will hopefully allow me to tap into the extra energy that most runners feel when sharing a tough session or a race. In the end, though, it will be up to me to find the courage within to do the workout at the pace I choose.